In the battle of wealthy gubernatorial self-funders in 2018, there was no contest as to who was willing and able to spend more of their own money: On that score, Democrat Ned Lamont outspent Republican Bob Stefanowski, $11 million to $1 million after the August primaries.
Stefanowski was able to offset the advantage of Lamont’s wealth with the help of an independent-expenditure group and the contributions that flowed to his campaign once he won the Republican nomination. But the resources under his direct control paled in comparison to those of the Lamont campaign.
End-of-the-year campaign finance reports filed Thursday show Lamont’s campaign spent nearly $15.8 million to win the nomination and general election, and only $813,000 came from individual contributions not named Ned Lamont.
Stefanowski’s campaign spent $6.5 million on the primary and general, with half the money coming from the candidate and half from individual contributors. But his spending was front-loaded on television advertising to buy name-recognition for the first-time candidate, a former global finance executive.
Of his own funds, Stefanowski spent $2.3 million to win a five-way primary, but only $1 million on the general election. Contributions from others totaled $635,000 before the primary, then blossomed to $2.6 million once he became the GOP nominee.
The Republican Governors Association made $7.4 million in independent expenditures supporting Stefanowski once he won the GOP nomination on Aug. 9, most of it on television ads attacking Lamont. Other than some token early spending on research, the Democratic Governors Association skipped the race, knowing Lamont had deep pockets.
Lamont, who was seeking statewide office for the third time, personally spent about $4 million before the Democratic primary and $11 million on the general election, including a final investment of $1.7 million on Oct. 30 to counter a late Republican television blitz.
The latest filings cover spending and fundraising from Oct. 29 through Dec. 31.
The third-place finisher, petitioning candidate Oz Griebel, spent a half-million dollars, with $300,000 from individual contributors and rest from the candidate. Griebel is the former leader of the MetroHartford Alliance, the region’s chamber of commerce.
Lamont defeated Stefanowski, 49.37 percent to 46.9 percent. Griebel had 3.89 percent.
The 2018 campaign was first in which no gubernatorial candidate on the November ballot sought public financing under the state’s voluntary Citizens Election Program.
Three of the four Republicans defeated by the Stefanowski in the GOP primary — Mark Boughton, Tim Herbst and Steve Obsitnik — had qualified for a public grant. Had one of them won in August, they would have received $6.5 million the next day.